Lights on Stillwater, 2009

there was even a mechanical bull!

OSU student rides the mechanical bull

That place was a madhouse.

The SAG booth was set up just in time for the crowd – which arrived a half-hour earlier than we expected.

Bill Miller at the Stillwater Art Guild booth

Bill Miller at the Stillwater Art Guild booth

Everybody wanted free stuff, and if your booth didn’t offer free stuff, you got ignored. So, in an effort to get attention, we had a table full of candy. Bill and I took turns running the booth while the other one went through the crowd to collect free stuff of our own.

For instance, the Walgreens booth was right across from us, and they constantly had a crowd five-layers deep. One rule with Lights on Stillwater is that you can’t ignore a booth and wait for the crowd to go away. If a booth doesn’t have a crowd, that means they must have run out of stuff.

So I plowed through: They had cups, pens, a nerf basketball hoop set, playing cards, a big laundry bag, an all-week pill-box (not sure if I’ll need that any time soon), and a great big bag to put it all in.

One booth down and that bag was full already. I headed back to our SAG booth to drop off the overstuffed bag and head out for another run. While watching Bill work his magic, I realized that if we didn’t have a big sign that said “STILLWATER ART GUILD”, people would have thought we were a candy store.

The strategy with this place is to pay attention to all the cool stuff that everybody else is carrying around, and then try to find out where they got it. There were free Eskimo Joe’s shirts, free cups, pens, bibles, you name it.

Just a few more people..

Just a few more people..

The obvious big winner was the huge presence of Arby’s logo hats being worn by at least a third of the crowd. (If you haven’t seen the commercials, do a Youtube search for “I’m thinking Arby’s”, and click the first hit.) These otherwise annoying little things were coming from the Arby’s booth right next to us, but I knew I had to have one. I hoped it would be easy… just hop over, say “gimme a hat!” then run off. But no, they made us work at it!

One person after another would walk up to one of the overjoyed, yet mischevious Arby’s employees for a hat, and the resulting conversation would be:

“Hey, I’d like one of those hats!”
“Sure, but you have to answer one question.”
“OK! Anything for one of those cool hats! They’re so awesome!”
“Ready? .. What is the number five on the menu?”
“…do what now?”
“The number five.”
“I gotta have an answer from you in ten seconds or you don’t get a hat.”
“Uhh… is it the… uh, the Chicken Sandwich?”
** they pause and stare at eachother **
“That is correct! Here’s your hat, enjoy! Next!”

An OSU student proudly shows off his new prize

OSU student proudly shows off his new prize

So I give it a go, and I play dumb even though I know what I’m up against…

“What does a guy have to do around here to get one of those cool hats?”
“You will have to tell me what the number fifteen is on the menu!”
“My goodness, FIFTEEN?! That’s a mighty big menu.. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen–”
My silliness gets interrupted with, “you have five seconds, sir..”
“Okay, it’s the french dip and swiss.”
“Wow, it *IS* the French dip and swiss! Way to go!”


We handed out most of our candy, gave way all of the newsletters we had, and I happily wore my new hat the rest of the evening.

Jason Wallace

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